San Francisco SPCA advocacy take action for cats


Taking Action.

Shelter Pals Logo

Shelter PALS (Policy and Legal Services) is the country’s first and only pro bono legal-aid program
dedicated exclusively to the needs of animal shelters. We champion policy change and counsel shelter clients to improve outcomes for animals. Beyond free legal advice, coordinating strategic litigation, and outreach to policy-makers, we also:

Provide input on all standard shelter agreements

Review and advise clients with respect to animal-related ordinances

Assist in negotiations of contracts with government agencies

We believe that every California animal shelter should have access to quality legal help, and we are here to provide it. Join us as Shelter PALS improves the lives of animals in California and creates a roadmap for change nationwide.

Shelter Sign Up

Let us help your shelter. Sign up today. 

Advocacy Impact

Shelter PALS is working to transform animal sheltering in California.

Meet the Team

Barbara Schmitz​ Animal-Welfare Advocacy Counsel

Barbara serves as Animal Welfare Advocacy Counsel and leads the SF SPCA Advocacy program.  She has 20 years of experience in public policy and advocacy on behalf of animals nationwide, including efforts protecting dogs in puppy mills, animals in pet stores, and issues related to community cats and their caregivers. Barbara directed two statewide animal-protection ballot-measure campaigns, organized grassroots and field operations statewide, and provides full-service advocacy and strategic efforts to help move the needle toward a more humane society. Barbara is owned by her three cats, Winston, Charlotte, and Mr. Gray.

Bruce Wagman​ Lead Counsel

Bruce Wagman, a lawyer with the San Francisco office of Riley Safer Holmes & Cancila LLP, has dedicated more than three decades to advocating for animals in various sectors of society. As the sole attorney running an exclusive animal law practice in a major U.S. firm, he litigates cases, drafts animal-friendly legislation, oversees rescues and sanctuaries, and provides consulting services. His expertise is recognized globally through his publications, casework, and involvement with a wide variety of animal law issues, from entertainment and biomedical research to animal cruelty and farm animal and wildlife protection. He is also the founder of Project Chimps, a Georgia sanctuary for chimpanzees retired from biomedical research. Known for his passion and successful arguments, Bruce represents animal-protection organizations and individuals, offering unwavering dedication to his clients and the animals involved.

Volunteer with Us

Are you a legal professional or advocate with a passion for animal advocacy?

San Francisco SPCA Compassion Collective discount veterinary pharmaceuticals

Compassion Collective

Interested in discounted veterinary pharmaceutical products for your shelter? We can help.